In the past couple of weeks I attended not one, but two soup exchange parties. I went to my first one back in 2009, and then attended again last year, so it’s become my winter tradition. The premise is you gather your friends together and everyone brings a favorite variety of soup. The party is spent sampling (and of course drinking wine) and then each guest leaves with leftovers of each soup to enjoy that week or freeze for later. As a single girl I enjoy it because it means a lot more variety in my weekly lunches than I otherwise could accommodate.
For one of the parties I decided to do a Potato, Crab and Gorgonzola Soup adapted from the New England Soup Factory Cookbook. It’s become my go to book for soups because it has such a wide range of recipes, many of which have unique flavor combinations. And even better the recipes always work out as written and taste quite close to what they serve in the restaurant.
This soup immediately appealed to me because it was comprised of many of my favorite things – starchy potatoes, rich seafood, cream and of course, cheese. For a long time I held tight to that rule that combining seafood and cheese was sacrilegious. I’m not sure who invented that notion originally, but I’m pretty sure they are missing out. I find the gorgonzola fits perfectly in this soup, balancing out the sweetness of the crab and the cream, but without overpowering all the other flavors. Even if you don’t have a soup party in sight I think it would make for a great weekday lunch when you’re feeling indulgent or a perfect first course for an elegant dinner.
Serves 10 generously
-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
-4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
-1 sweet onion, diced
-3 ribs celery, diced
-6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
-6 cups crab stock (I used this recipe, but you could use store bought lobster stock as well.)
-1 can (8 ounces) tomato paste
-2 cups sherry
-2 bay leaves
-1 teaspoons celery salt
-1 1/2 cups heavy cream
-1 pound crab meat plus additional for garnish, if desired
-1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
-1/2 bunch basil, chopped, plus additional for garnish
-5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
-5 dashes Tabasco sauce
-Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a stockpot, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the garlic, onion, and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add crab stock, tomato paste, sherry, bay leaves and celery salt. Bring to a boil Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are soft and tender, 30-25 minutes.
Remove and discard the bay leaves. Remove from the heat and add the cream. Puree the soup in the pot using a hand blender or working in batches with a regular blender until smooth and creamy. Add crabmeat, 3/4 cup of the cheese, basil, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper. Stir well. Return the pot to the heat and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, adding a bit more sherry to taste. Garnish each serving with the crumbled cheese, and extra crabmeat and chopped basil.